Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Expand your horizons on holiday in South Africa

When it comes to holidays; we are all guilty of it – sticking to our usual activities, swimming, relaxing, eating out, sunbathing, etc. How many of us choose a fabulous new holiday destination and come back thinking…  “well we had a good break but did we really experience the country we have just been to?”. 

Too many of us stick to our hotels and the trips on offer to us. With just a little research and an appetite to try out new experiences we can truly expand our horizons. 
When it comes to a destination such as South Africa; it is easy to get sucked into the classic holiday of Cape Town, Garden Route and Safari. Please don’t get me wrong these are good places to go but really only scratches the surface of what there is to do in this vast and culturally diverse country.
So let’s take the example of a Safari. Instead of taking the normal type of safari, why not consider a horse-back safari or perhaps a quad-bike safari. 

Both of these provide a uniquely different type of safari experience and miles away from the usual experience of queuing with lots of other tourists on the more typical jeep/minibus safari. 
If you are struck by the horse-back experience then why not try out one that includes a beach ride as well. The coastline along the Indian Ocean has vast expanses of deserted sandy beaches with huge sand dunes and you get the chance to ride through the shallow waves – a truly magical experience.
The countryside across South Africa is beautiful and just waiting to be explored. In the KwaZulu-Natal province you can discover the amazing Drakensberg Mountains where you can walk miles along hiking trails. The scenery is stunning with San Bushman caves just waiting to be discovered. Many of the peaks have names around the Drakensberg with Cathedral Peak being one of the best known. A trip up these mountains is well worth it especially on a sunny day with stunning panoramic views to be found.
Dotted all around South Africa you can find also Canopy Tours. These are a series of roped walkways between wooden platforms set high up in the forests.   Guides will take you through the forest where you can experience a truly different perspective of life in these indigenous forests. One place you can do this is at the lovely Tsitsikamma National Forest.
Many people visit the Garden Route driving through this pretty route en route from Cape Town. The route follows the Indian Ocean passing though or close to many pretty coastal villages and towns. But did you also know that you can try parasailing from one of the mountains that follow the route too. This is a fantastic experience soaring high above the route with amazing views of the Indian Ocean.
I have tried to give you just a few ideas but there are so many more. By exploring the web you can discover many other wild and different ideas for your trip to South Africa. Just think of all the photo opportunities you will get and be able to share with your friends. So next time you visit our wonderful country take the time out to try a few new ideas – you won’t be disappointed.

For more ideas on things to do in South Africa; accommodation and places of interest - go to
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Monday, May 5, 2003

My First Experience of Deep Sea Fishing in South Africa

My first ever trip deep sea fishing in South Africa starts with an early morning wake up call at 4.30am. I am staying at a lovely guest house in Port Alfred situated on the coast of the Eastern Cape. With a sense of excitement, I kick start my day with a strong coffee and prepare food to take with me for what I hope will be a successful days fishing. The night before I took some Stugeron (seasickness tablets) just to be on the safe side as I am not sure what the Indian Ocean has in store for me. We make our way down to the boat and prepare everything. We have taken 2 boxes of fresh sardines for bait.

Port Alfred has a lovely marina with a river that flows into the Ocean. We have timed our exit from the Kowie River mouth to coincide with low tide to ensure we have the smoothest exit to the Ocean. Nevertheless we put on our life jackets and ride the waves at the river mouth out to the vast Indian Ocean. We are riding in a Butt Cat which is superb for the Ocean with the ability to ride over the oncoming waves. Our skipper is Des, an experienced fisherman who knows the waters off this area of the Eastern Cape, and asks us to hold on as he picks up speed crashing over the waves in front of us. This is great and a really exciting start to the day completely taking my mind off any potential seasickness.

We head out for about 30 minutes before we drop our first anchor. Once we are settled we start to bait up our rods and drop our first lines. There are three of us on the boat so Des gives us expert advice on how to bait up and some tips on what to do when you get your first nibble on the line. I can’t believe how far down my line goes before my weight hits the bottom! As soon as my line reaches the bottom of the Indian Ocean I can feel the fish biting. This is amazing I didn’t expect to feel the bites so firmly. I now try and put into practice Des’ tips on making a strike. After a few fruitless attempts I make a proper strike and I reel in quickly. Of course it’s a long way up and my arms are doing all the work but soon I can see the fish on the end of my line. The feeling is amazing! 

Des shows me how to bring the fish on board and then how to remove the hook from the fish. The fish is too small to keep but the taste of the catch has left me wanting more. Having returned the fish to the Ocean I bait up again. We spend about an hour in the first spot before moving on to a new spot. The Ocean is relatively calm and the weather is superb – always remember your suntan cream as the breeze out here can be very deceiving. 

We stop for lunch halfway through the day to enjoy homemade sandwiches and cool drinks. Bobbing around on the Ocean we suddenly hear the noise of a familiar spurt of water made by a whale. Des points out the southern right whale about 200 metres away – incredible to think these mammals are cruising around near where you are fishing. We finish lunch and move on to a new spot. We enjoy in total about 8 hours fishing and catch enough good size fish for dinner later that evening. During the afternoon we spot lots of white water about a mile away from us – Des heads his boat towards the area and we are suddenly surrounded by thousands of dolphins and seals as far as the eye can see. This is an incredible sight and I take lots of photos to capture the moment.

As we return back to Port Alfred I look back on an amazing first experience of deep sea fishing in South Africa. South Africa has miles of coastline with a great choice of accommodation to be found from Guest Houses, Bed and; Breakfasts, Lodges and Self Catering venues. From Cape Town all the way up the Garden Route to beyond Durban there are numerous beach holiday places to stay where you can take a fishing boat charter. 

For more information on other things to do in South Africa and places to stay – see
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